San Antonio to Open New Museum: Director Explains “You’re in a Western Art Museum”

Pancho Villa's saddle

Pancho Villa’s saddle. Courtesy photo/Briscoe Western Art Museum

This fall, the Briscoe Western Art Museum will open along San Antonio’s River Walk, in the original site of the San Antonio main library. The museum, which former Governor Dolph Briscoe helped to conceptualize and finance, was initially meant to open in 2009, but the project was delayed as the original design went through changes, the budget doubled and, in 2010, Briscoe died.

The museum’s construction and renovation is now near completion and already has a 13-foot tall bronze sculpture installed in the lobby. Executive Director Steven M. Karr explained to the San Antonio Express-News the careful thought behind the sculpture’s placement: “We very purposefully wanted it here in the lobby because very often when you walk into museums you ask yourself, ‘Why am I here? What am I looking at? What is it about?’ What we wanted to do was hit people over the head and let them understand: You’re in a Western art museum, and this is what you’re going to see when you’re in here.”

Most of the installation of the collection will begin in September. Highlights will include an interactive diorama of the Alamo, a presentation sword given to Santa Anna, and Pancho Villa’s last known saddle. It’s the cool, shiny saddle of the Mexican revolutionary leader that got an excited shout-out in a recent New York Times/Texas Monthly post.

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